For decades, one rule of American politics has been that the political power of the Cuban-American lobby in Miami (which is to say, in swing-state Florida) made rapprochement with Castro’s country impossible. But when the breakthrough finally came on Wednesday, there was little objection at all. "No one is marching in the streets," the Washington Post's great Joel Achenbach reported from Little Havana, for decades the global center of anti-Castroism. On cable television, you could hear exasperation from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (who argued, not incorrectly, that the objectionable things about Cuba hadn’t really changed: "No freedom of organization. No elections"). But on the streets Achenbach, like others, saw little of that — "a far cry from the throngs that clogged the streets during the Elian Gonzalez controversy 15 years ago." Even the titans of Little Havana were adapting themselves to the inevitable. Last winter, for instance, the Cuban-American sugar tycoon Alfonso Fanjul, whose family had long helped to fund the anti-Castro movement, told the Washington Post that he was giving up the fight and had begun scouting investment opportunities back on the island. The Pope prodded Obama and Raul Castro, urging the two men together, but it couldn't have hurt that Rand Paul and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the reconciliation, along with, the Times reported, "major agricultural interests."
On Saturday night, just minutes after ambulances had pulled away from Woodhull Medical Center with the bodies of slain NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch addressed the media: "There's blood on many hands tonight," he bellowed. "Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day — we tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor." Unfortunately, Lynch — who just last week was encouraging cops to ban de Blasio from their funerals — was not the only person insisting that someone other than 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley was responsible for the murders of Ramos and Liu.
In April, a think-tank scholar named Edward Blum put up a series of websites: harvardnotfair.org, uncnotfair.org, and uwnotfair.org. What was “not fair” about those schools were their admission policies, Blum felt: The schools were discriminating against Asian students, to the benefit of students that were white, black, Hispanic, or members of other racial or ethnic groups.
On Saturday afternoon, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their squad car in Bed-Stuy. With the cops fatally wounded, two Con Ed workers who had witnessed the shooting chased Brinsley toward the nearby Myrtle-Willoughby G stop. Tipped off by the Con Ed workers, police officers ran into the station where, without about ten people watching, Brinsley shot himself in the head.
Bill de Blasio was never baptized, and as an adult does not belong to a church. His wife, Chirlane McCray, told me last year, “I do consider myself to be a spiritual person, but I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s very easily misconstrued.”
Whatever the specifics of their own beliefs, the mayor and the first lady sincerely respect the role and power of religion. And so there they were this morning, in the front pew at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, at a moment when the city was greatly in need of some pastoral calm and wisdom, for de Blasio’s first public appearance since he left Woodhull Medical Center last night. Cardinal Timothy Dolan rose to the occasion, mixing the avuncular — telling a joke about Christmas crowds choosing between “standing in line at Lord & Taylor and visiting our Lord and savior” — with the deeply serious. “Be not afraid,” Dolan said. “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust…We ask a blessing for our city’s leaders, especially those praying with us here today.”
On Sunday, Sony lawyer David Boies said that the studio still plans to release their move embattled movie ever, The Interview. "Sony only delayed this," Boies said on Meet the Press. "Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet. But it's going to be distributed." Boies's words echo CEO Michael Lynton's comments about how Sony still very much wants to see The Interview distributed. "I shouldn't say if — when," Lynton said on NPR regarding digital distribution. "We would very much like that to happen. But we do need partners to make that happen. We ourselves do not have a distribution platform to put the movie out."
In a pre-Christmas vacation interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, President Obama disappointed the nation's hawks by saying that he doesn't consider the Sony hack an "act of war" by North Korea, which his administration has blamed for the attack. "I don't think it was an act of war," he said. "I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously."
It was, both online and off, a very long year. But if there's one thing we could rely on in 2014, it was Twitter's (mostly Media Twitter's) penchant for making up its own words, phrases, and inside jokes, then repeating them over and over and over again until we beckon for the sweet embrace of death. Here, a Twitter glossary for 2014.
The two police ambulances had barely cleared the Woodhull Medical Center ramp, carrying the bodies of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Then down the slope came Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, taking up a position in front of the TV cameras and making this tragic night in Brooklyn even worse. "There's blood on many hands tonight," Lynch roared. "Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day — we tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor."